Cash for caleches: Ville-Marie invests $500K to upgrade industry
Montreal's caleche industry is getting a $500,000 boost from the city as part of a plan to regulate and improve the industry and its services.
The Ville-Marie borough council voted Tuesday night on the new funding for the horse-drawn carriages popular with tourists in Old Montreal.
The new money breaks down to about $20,000 per horse, but Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said that money will not be going to individual drivers. Instead it will be used to instill more professionalism into the industry as a whole.
“To professionalize the industry, it means from the way that you buy the ticket to the way that you deliver the services and making sure that you’re protecting the horses, I think that’s the policy. And I’ve been saying since day one that we’ll need to have our own stables,” said Coderre.
The money would also be used for microchipping the horses, improving the caleche waiting stations, and implementing driver training and mandatory uniforms for drivers.
Caleche driver Luc Desparais said he wishes the city would consult the drivers on how to improve their industry.
"It could be very good if the city finally wants to help us by putting some money to make our work safer and easier for the horses and better for us, but not for stupid things," he said, citing uniforms and training as unnecessary costs.
Opposition party Projet Montreal, The Anti-Caleche Coalition, and the Montreal SPCA are all speaking out against the new funding.
The SPCA wants the city to ban caleches altogether.
Projet Montreal argued the money could be better spent elsewhere.
"Again we're trying to preserve an industry that has maybe 24 caleches that we could easily phase out, which we should phase out, while other cities in countries around the world are phasing out these industries because of accidents, because of the health of these animals," said Projet Montreal councillor Sterling Downey.
The new money comes just seven months after Mayor Coderre tried to implement a one-year ban on the horse-drawn carriages.
The decision for a moratorium was reached after several incidents where horses were injured while working.
Caleche drivers protested and filed a court injunction to halt the ban.
Mayor Coderre agreed to lift the moratorium after the judge ruled in favour of the injunction.